On Tuesday, the Calhoun Lady Jackets defeated the North Hall Lady Trojans by the score of 2-0 in the first round of the 2019 GHSA Class AAA girls soccer state playoffs.
“It’s one step toward the ultimate goal,” Lady Jackets head coach Taylor Sumrall said. “There’s four steps left, being each round, but getting that first win always helps.”
Calhoun started slow out of the gates, generating few scoring chances through the first 40 minutes.
“We came out and we played a little lazy,” Sumrall said. “I think we took for granted that it was the playoffs and we forgot for a half that, if we lose, we go home.”
Calhoun’s best scoring chance of the first half occurred just over 20 minutes in. The Lady Jackets looked to have the opening goal of the contest, but Hannah Dimeler was called for a handball inside the box, as the ball went off of her arm into the net.
“(Hannah) felt really bad about it,” Sumrall said. “It was just a natural human reaction. The ball was coming at her face, she stuck her hand up. That’s why she got (yellow) carded for it.”
Calhoun finally found the scoreboard with 19:18 left in the second half, as Laurel Putnam crossed the ball toward the front of the net, over North Hall’s goalkeeper. The ball proceeded to ricochet off the left post, then off of Halle Rhodes’ hip and into the cage. The hip goal turned out to be the game-winner.
Despite Dimeler’s mistake in the first half, she would secure her redemption in the latter 40. With 12:55 remaining before the final whistle, Dimeler got possession of the ball in the middle of the box and fired a shot past North Hall’s goalie for a 2-0 edge.
“I knew she would make up for it and she did there at the end,” Sumrall said. “She made a great touch on it and was able to put it away. I’m proud of the way she bounced back from (her mistake).”
Calhoun held on for the 2-0 victory, its fourth straight shutout dating back to April 9.
“It was an ugly win, but, like I told the girls afterwards, a win is a win,” Sumrall said. “If you can win the ugly ones, that means you’ve got a good team.”
The ‘W’ is also Sumrall’s first career playoff victory with the Lady Jackets.
“Getting the first one, personally … I like that,” Sumrall said. “It makes me feel good for my team and everything, but, at the same time, we’ve still got a lot of work to do.”
The Lady Jackets advance to the second round and will face the Lovett Lions on Wednesday, May 1. The Lovett Lions, second seed from Region 5, defeated third seed Morgan County by the score of 8-0.
Kickoff for Wednesday’s contest is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.
“It’ll be a big one,” Sumrall said on the upcoming second-round playoff game. “Being able to play here, have the crowd come and support us, it’s a little bit of a different atmosphere than what most … are used to up here. Anytime you play at home, especially during the playoffs, it’s always a great thing.”